HC Deb 27 January 1954 vol 522 cc1746-7
53. Sir L. Ropner

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air the number of fatal accidents to jet aircraft in the United Kingdom for the 12 months ended 31st December, 1953; and what was the number of personnel who were killed as a result of these accidents.

Mr. Ward

In the United Kingdom during 1953 there were 91 fatal accidents to Royal Air Force jet aircraft in which 112 members of the Royal Air Force lost their lives. These figures are slightly lower than the comparable figures for 1952, although the number of hours flown during the year was about one third greater.

Sir L. Ropner

Will my hon. Friend consider the possibility of extending training on slower and easier machines over a longer period before these young pilots are allowed to operate jet aircraft?

Mr. Ward

I do not think that is the answer. Indeed, on the contrary, I think it may well be that the step from the slower, light aircraft on to the jet is too big, and we are introducing now the Provost-Vampire sequence and also considering the introduction, anyway as an experiment, of a jet basic trainer.

Mr. Beswick

What proportion of those accidents was caused by human error, and was there any other structural cause that accounted for a significant number of the crashes?

Mr. Ward

I would ask the hon. Gentleman to give me notice of that, and I shall do the best I can to answer it. I think I shall find that it is almost impossible to put one's finger on anything that is common to all accidents.

Mr. Noel-Baker

How do these figures for jet aircraft compare with the fatal accidents with piston-engined aircraft?

Mr. Ward

The fatal jet accident rate during 1953 was roughly half the fatal accident rate of the Spitfire when in comparable service.